“The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars” – Isaiah 9:10
The one thing that is constant in life is change. There may be small changes, there may be big changes, but whatever the magnitude of the change, we are required to make adjustments to keep our targets on the radar screen.
A sensible national target is the socio-economic well being of our people and this is articulated, for example, by the United Nations millennium development goals. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health,
combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.
We go happily about our business and then, bang! The external environment attacks. Trade preferences are removed, republican status is in question, avian flu threatens, our culture is challenged, spirituality is superficial, interest rates increase, crime, violence and drugs invade, hurricanes hit, workers strike, agricultural output diminishes, rat population increases, customer service eludes us, HIV/AIDS on the increase, accidents on the rise, jobs at risk, oil prices reach unprecedented levels, food and energy security threatened, taxes go up, impact of CSME uncertain, liberal consumer spending, soaring prices, balance of payment crisis looms, money becomes very expensive, businesses fail and foreign reserves decline. What a mess!
The only way out is sustainable enterprise development by innovative entrepreneurs, supported by a user-friendly enabling environment by government, a push for increased productivity for fair compensation by the trade unions, innovative investment instruments by financial institutions and a shepherding process by the business consulting community.
We need to aggressively promote a culture of ‘if it is to be, it is up to me’. This must be translated into an entrepreneurial spirit, where each of us believes we can run a business. As my mother has often counseled me ‘I am, therefore I can, therefore I will’. This has been more formally stated by Russell Williams in an article on October 01, 2005 as follows: ‘Let me share the I Am, I Can, I Will checklist, which when applied to a child’s mental preparation for school, can help them successfully leap out of the gate: I am! I am a student with a fresh start. I am a success in the classroom. This is my time to begin again. I can! My efforts bring rewards. I carry an I can attitude into each classroom experience. I don’t try to just get by. I choose to excel. I pursue excellence. I do my best! I will! I carry a persistent attitude. I don’t run away from a challenge. I dig in and attack the problem in front of me. I don’t waste my time worrying. I pour my attention into actions that move me where I need to go each day’ – www.abqtrib.com. So come on latent entrepreneurs, rise like a Phoenix from the ashes!
We cannot make such an appeal and then not be there for them. Governments have taken a number of initiatives but in the wrong institutional framework. Entrepreneurship innovation and development is private sector activity, it cannot be bogged down by public sector bureaucratic rules. It must be free to breathe, we must be able to take instant responsible decisions free of the culture of protecting our anatomy. Many of these government initiatives have not led to the explosion and sustained development of entrepreneurial activity desired, this process needs Government help but also needs to be liberated from the existing stifling atmosphere.
Trade unions have a large constituency. Their traditional roles have been to protect jobs. This is sensible in a stable environment, but when we are in a dynamic environment of change, as we are experiencing today and will probably continue to experience, it is time to change gears! Trade unions, on the one hand, need to promote increased productivity in the both the public and private sectors, for fair compensation, so as to save costs in achieving a given output. On the other hand, trade unions must realise that in the extant environment there will be job losses and hence they should educate their members as to the benefits of entrepreneurial activity as a viable alternative.
Successful enterprise development is predicated on the entrepreneur working with the assets of money and management in an optimal manner. Development agencies and financial institutions have to come to the plate with appropriate instruments for each stage of the entrepreneurs’ journey from business idea to sustainable business success. These steps are generate new ideas or re-engineer existing ideas producing business opportunity profiles; develop business opportunity profiles into business plans; convert business plans to business start-ups; evolve business start-ups to business implementation; advance business implementation to business success – mentoring management and promoting preventive business health.
Then the most important piece of the process, inspired by Ray Charles’ ‘Baby let me hold your hand’ is the ‘shepherding process’ which is necessary for successful entrepreneurial development and is provided by the business consulting community. It has been to a large extent ignored. The CBET shepherding model informs.
The economies of the Caribbean have fallen, but we shall build them with entrepreneurial innovation.